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How Much Should My Cat Weigh? Vet-Approved Chart & Infographic

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 28, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Cat paws stand on smart scales that makes bioelectric impedance analysis, BIA, body or weight fat measurement

How Much Should My Cat Weigh? Vet-Approved Chart & Infographic


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats are one of America’s favorite pets, but as more of them spend their lives indoors, they are also putting on more weight. Obesity can lead to several health problems, but most importantly, it shortens their lives. If you want to keep your pet healthy but aren’t sure how to tell if they are overweight, we are here to help.

The average cat weight should by 8–10 pounds (3.6–4.4 kilograms). But there are multiple factors that may change these values, so keep reading while we discuss how to determine the ideal weight for your cat and how to make adjustments so your cat can live a long, healthy life.

We’ve broken up your cat’s weight into five categories, as well as including a cat weight chart, to help you determine if your cat is overweight and answer the age-old question, How heavy should my cat be?

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Cat Weight Categories

1. Very Underweight – Emaciated

loss weight or skinny cat
Image Credit: Aun25, Shutterstock

Very underweight cats need immediate attention. It’s rare to see a cat in this condition unless they are a stray or someone has been neglecting them. Very underweight cats will have visible ribs that you can see from the side and also from above. Their hip and back bones will have no fat covering and appear more prominent than usual. The tummy tuck will be extreme, and they usually have little energy for grooming, hunting, or playing. If the cat is a stray, they will likely lose their fear of humans and come up to you looking for food.

2. Underweight – Thin

Image Credit: Unsplash

Underweight cats will have a little more fat than the previous type, but not much. You will still see rib bones from the side, and they will be easy to feel when you pet the cat, but it may be more difficult to see them from above.

There will be a little bit of padding on the bones around the hip, but they will still be prominent and easy to see, along with a very obvious tummy tuck. Though they are underweight and need food immediately, they will still have plenty of energy to hunt and play and may even choose to hide or run from humans when confronted. Most stray cats are underweight, especially if there is a large population or it’s winter.

3. Ideal Cat Weight

Brazilian shorthair cat outdoors
Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

Cats at their ideal weight will have ribs that you can feel without effort when you pet them, but they won’t be visible unless they are stretching, jumping, or climbing. The hip bones will be padded but contoured and visible, creating a slight waist for the cat when looking down on them from above. Their fur will be shiny, and the cat will be playful and energetic. Cats in this weight range are generally healthy cats that will live the longest, but it takes the most effort from pet owners to achieve this ideal weight.

4. Overweight

fat calico cat sleeping in the window perch
Image Credit: Lisa A. Ernst, Shutterstock

Overweight cats are easy to find in many homes across America, outnumbering those cats at an ideal weight and becoming a serious issue. You will still be able to feel the ribs of an overweight cat, but it will require a little pressing, and you will also feel the fat. You will see the hip bones are well padded, and the body will bulge slightly towards the back with no waistline when viewed from above. Overweight cats should get into a veterinary-approved weight management program to avoid suffering from all of the cat diseases linked to this body condition.

5. Obese

fat cat lying on the ground
Image Credit: almi, Pixabay

Like very underweight cats, obese cats require immediate attention. They are vulnerable to several health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and more. The extra weight will also take a toll on the joints and will make it hard for your cat to climb and jump as it normally would. The added fat can also make it difficult for cats to groom themselves properly and even to expand the lungs and breathe normally. You may also notice the cat snoring more often. It will be difficult to feel the ribs on an obese cat, and you will see clear fat deposits on the lumbar area, face, and limbs.

There will be no visible waist, a prominent rounded abdominal area with thick fat padding, and the back end will bulge out when viewed from above.

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Cat Weight Chart: How Heavy Should My Cat Be?

Cat Body Condition Score Healthy Weight
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Body Condition Physical Traits
Very Underweight – Emaciated ●       Dull fur
●       Visible ribs
●       Non-padded hip bones
●       Little energy
●       Life-threatening
●       Extreme tummy tuck
Underweight – Thin ●       Ribs visible from the side
●       Padding may obscure ribs when viewed from above
●       Tummy tucked
Ideal ●       Barely visible ribs
●       Visible slight waistline when viewed from above
●       Shiny coat
●       Energetic
●       Minimal fat pad in the tummy
Overweight ●       No visible ribs
●       No waist visible after ribcage
●       Rounded abdomen with fat pad
●       A slight bulge in the back half when viewed from above
Obese ●       No visible ribs
●       Visible fat deposits
●       Very obviously rounded abdomen, thick fat pad
●       Less energy
●       Difficulty breathing
●       Life-threatening

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Ideal Cat Weight

Many experts recommend that your cat weigh between 10–12 pounds, but that’s not always the case. The International Cat Association recognizes more than 70 cat breeds, and each breed will possess different sizes and traits, greatly varying their ideal weight. For instance, the Singapura cat is one of the smallest cats, and you want it to weigh between 4–8 pounds. The Maine Coon is the largest breed, and the females will weigh 12–15 pounds, while the males can be as heavy as 22–25 pounds.

However, the Domestic Shorthair is one of the most common house cats in America, and if you didn’t purchase a specific breed, it is probably a Domestic Shorthair. These cats are normally around 8–10 pounds, but it can still vary, and you will need to determine the ideal weight for your cat on a case-by-case basis using the body condition score.

Now how often should you weigh your cat? Keeping track of your cat’s weight is a good habit, and experts recommend that you weigh your cat once a month as weight loss or gain can be an early or warning sign of illness.

veterinarian weighs an overweight pet on a scale
Image Credit: Zhuravlev Andrey, Shutterstock

How to Identify if Your Cat’s Weight Is Healthy

The best way to determine if your cat is the proper weight is to use our guide above and do a visual test. You should not see any fat deposits on the cat, but you shouldn’t see the ribs, especially when looking at the cat from above. Your cat should have a shiny coat that is well-kept because they groom themselves normally. A healthy cat will have normal energy levels for the breed and likely enjoy playing. A cat’s breathing should not seem labored, and they should be able to jump on high surfaces fairly easily.

Cats that are too heavy may have difficulty grooming themselves and may develop mats, especially if they have long hair. They will stop trying to leap on high counters and not run as much. Their breathing can sound labored, and they will be more likely to snore. Fat deposits will be visible and especially noticeable when the cat runs.

What to Do if Your Cat Is Overweight

Unfortunately, it is not easy to help your cat lose weight, and it is preferable to prevent your cat from getting fat in the first place. Cats can quickly develop fatty liver disease if you try to make them lose weight too fast. Because the liver has so many biological functions, fatty liver disease affects your cat’s health in several ways and could be life threatening.

You can follow these few simple steps to help your cat slim down slowly:
  • Avoid free-feeding your cat. Feed your cat three or four small meals throughout the day instead of giving them food when they want it.
  • Take your cat to the vet to get their recommendation.
  • Feed high-quality cat food with plenty of animal-based protein, and avoid carbohydrate sources. Eliminate foods with corn and soy ingredients.
  • Know your cat’s daily calorie allowances, figure out their current consumption, and lower the calories by no more than 5–10% at a time.
  • Spend a few more minutes each day playing with your cat to get them to be more active. Laser pens are great ways to get your cat to run.

What to Do if Your Cat Is Underweight

If your cat is underweight, first check the quality of the food. The main ingredient should be animal protein.  It should also contain a moderate amount of healthy fats and fewer carbs. You can then consider feeding them a bit more food. Cats love to eat, so if your cat is too thin despite proper feeding, it could be a sign that your cat has a health condition that might need attention from a vet. Dental problems, intestinal parasites, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and even bad food can all be the reason your cat is losing weight unexpectedly.

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We hope you have enjoyed reading this guide and learned whether or not your cat is in a healthy weight range. Most modern house cats are suffering from obesity, and we need to get this serious problem under control. The right amount of calories from nutritious food and plenty of playtime are the best way.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Koldunov Alexey, Shutterstock

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